President Donald Trump’s choice to be a top budget adviser once voted as a state senator to declare Social Security and Medicaid unconstitutional.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) backed the failed amendment in 2009, casting Trump’s promises to never cut the two programs into serious disrepute.
Mulvaney was named by Trump to be director of the Office of Management and Budget, an arm of the White House that churns out reports and declarations about policy. OMB is the arm of the Executive Branch that issues Presidential veto threats for legislation winding its way through Congress.
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“It seems to me that Rep. Mulvaney is way, way out of touch with what the American people want and what President Trump campaigned on,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Tuesday, at Mulvaney’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Budget Committee.
Mulvaney responded to Sanders’ citation of the vote by saying he does not currently believe the two key welfare programs violate the US Constitution.
“I will not be arguing to the President of the United States that Social Security and Medicare [sic] are unconstitutional,” he told Sanders.
The OMB chief nominee did not, however, back down from advocating cuts to Medicaid and Social Security–despite Trump’s numerous promises on the campaign trail, to refrain from reducing benefits paid out by the two programs.
Mulvaney claimed that without “reforms,” Social Security and Medicaid face significant restraints.
“I believe in 9 or 10 years, the Medicaid Trust Fund is empty,” Mulvaney said. “In roughly 17 or 18 years, the Social Security Trust Fund is empty.”
Sanders responded, noting “there is a lot we can do” that doesn’t involve cuts. He said lifting the cap on Social Security taxes for households earning more than $250,000 would “enable us to extend and expand Social Security very significantly.”
In 2015, Sanders filed cap-lifting legislation that would extend Social Security’s solvency by 45 years, according to his staff. The current inflation-adjusted ceiling on Social Security taxes was set by Congress in 1983, under the Reagan Administration.
“But the problem I am having right now is not just your nomination,” Sanders added. “But the integrity and the honesty of somebody who ran for office on one set of principles nominating somebody else, whose views are very different.”